Welcome to a new year.
The idea of new connects to beginning, which leaves little wonder at why resolutions are brought up this time of year. People rattle off the expected eat better, workout more, be better, do more. There’s this need to be more for the new year, but more doesn’t need to mean grand goals and a complete lifestyle change. It can be maintianing what’s already expected of onself, adding an additional hobby or resonsibilty into one’s life, or finding ways to live more enriched.
I want to begin to keep myself accountable for each year. I also want resolutions that mattered to be and would enchance my life this year. Let’s start this year this our best foot collective forward.
I’m going to start here because it’s such a large topic that I’m always hearing from friends and aquaintances wasn’t something they grew up learning. There’s the common I have it in my account so I can spend it mentality that surprises me a bit every time I hear it. I’m fortunate enough to have grown up with parents, especially my dad, who spoke openly and often about personal finances.
Matthew and I are now moving into our 2nd year as a married couple and the year I turn 30, so my financial goals are focused on eventual children and purchasing a home. I have a number set for our minimum I want us to save and an ideal number that we’ll be striving to hit.
Having a goal, any financial goal, is massively important whether that’s a goal of saving $500 or $5,000. If you’re looking for some ideas or best practices to reach a target savings goal, here’s my approach and helpful some resources:
- Figure out your monthly expenses. This means rent/mortgage, home bills (internet, water, etc.), other main bills (cell phone, health insurance, car payment, credit card/loan payments, etc.), and needed expsenses (gas, groceries, bus pass, etc.).
- Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly take-home pay. This will give you a number to work with for monthly budgeting.
- Create a savings plan. I normally start with halves. For example, let’s say after subtracting your monthly expenses from your take-home pay, the remainder is $500. Monthly, I’d make my goal $250 gets moved into savings. That gives you $250/month for food, shopping, etc. With that plan, your yearly savings goal would be $3,000.
- Take a look at what other people are doing. Want more detail and insight into how to save? Check out the Mr. Money Mustache blog for tips on how to save and retire early or find a library that has Rich Dad, Poor Dad for a comparision between how parents teach money to their children and the results.
This is, in my opinion, one of the most important experiences a person can have. It shows you new ways of thinking and being, forces you to interact with different people, and does wonders for the spirit. Traveling doesn’t have to mean big, grand schemes that will wreck the saving plan you just made. It simply means going somewhere that’s not in your usual realm of routine
Travel plans for 2019:
- Visit the closest big town. For example, the nearest to Seattle outside of places I’d usually visit include Portland, Spokane, and Vancouver, BC. Each is maybe 3 hours outside of Seattle and make sure perfect weekend travel destinations.
- Figure out what makes you want to travel. Do you love food or fashion? How about parks or hiking trails? Maybe you’re more into concerts and figuring out the local scene? Whatever lights a fire of interest in you, use that as your guide in your new places.
- Plan 50% of each day. I use this way of planning to reduce my anxiety about being a new, unfamiliar place. Planning 1-2 things a day helps give focus and meaning to a trip without leaving me overwhelemed by decisions. It also gives wiggle room to explore. If you’re on your way to a park you planned to visit, and come across a coffee shop or book store or museum you didn’t know about, you’ve included time into your day to go to these newly found locations.
- Don’t shy away from that big trip. If you have a large trip you want to take either in length or location, plan your budget accordingly and give yourself enough time to save for it without finding yourself in debt. It can be an intimidating thought to travel overseas, so I suggest starting with places you feel most comfortable. As a native English speaker, England and Wales were perfect places to visit for Matthew and my first international trip together.
Reconnect with Nature
I came across an article several years back that posed the question when was the last time your bare feet touched the earth? I think about this often, sometimes realizing it’s been days or weeks since I phsyically connected to anything natural. One of the reasons moving to Seattle was so exciting was its proximity to the mountains and wild, dark forests that captured my imagination so intensely. Then life happens, you get busy, and suddently it’s been over a year since your last hike or camping trip.
These are my personal goals for the year, but please feel free to make them yours as well.
- Main seasonal events. I want to have at least one large goal each season for how to get back into the enviornment around me. Such as how Matthew and I always talk about getting a group of friends together for a camping trip, but I always let it drop off because we were busy. Being busy is a terrible excuse I often fall into, and I mean to reasses my time use this year. We’re planning on tents, smores, music, and a good group of friends to drink by the fire with.
- Accomplishing the hikes I wrote down 3 years ago. Excited to live in a new city, I wrote a massive list of hikes suggests from aquiantances and websites. We’ve tackled less than a quarter of this list. This year, my plan is to make it at least half way to three quarters through.
- Take advantage of local parks. This is a biggie. There are no excuses for why I should say I want to be in nature more while ignoring large parks within walking or bussing distance. Seattle has a beautiful Arboretum that we’ve only visited once. Going hand in hand with that previous busy excuse, planning my time and weekends better, along with putting in more effort to plan, will allow me to take full advantage of what’s right in front of me.
I hope everyone has an incredible 2019 planned. Matthew and I are kicking off the year by celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary with our belated honeymoon in Japan and Thailand. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year will bring me and I look forward to sharing it with everyone.